The End of Consumer Photography. Well, for me.

At times I go back and forth with what I want to do with photography. But, the simple fact of thinking that I want to do something and then trying it out makes me understand what I’m working with. It is the same process that I used in figuring out what I wanted to do with my life ever since I got out of school. I think it is still safe to say that I still don’t know what I want to do and that is okay. Nothing was ever figured out in a day.

With that said, I’ll be slowly discontinuing my consumer-driven photography work. Yep, I’m done with dealing with people as my prime source of income. This conclusion was determined because of many reasons and they all will be discuss here. There shouldn’t be a reason why I should hide anything about the reasoning why I’m done dealing with people, however, I will explain the line of work that I’m focusing my attention on.

The Best Subjects to Photograph

When I was starting out with photography, the best subjects to photograph were not people. Anything that was man-made and nature was what fascinated me the most. I didn’t have to worry about people giving me the expressions that I wanted or getting them in the right positioning and all that good stuff, I was just there and found something interesting to photograph. People may say that I wasn’t to keen on the amazement of human being interaction. So, I didn’t worry about photographing people.

I don’t know where the bug to photograph people hit me, but it was there and all I ever wanted to do was photograph them in their natural environment and get their real expressions of whatever they were feeling at the time. So, I went on this mission to interview and photograph people. I enjoyed the process and was quite pleased with the type of images that I got from those photoshoots/interviews nearly a year ago. The thing that pissed me off about the whole experiment was that people wouldn’t give me rights to use the photographs for the project I was going to turn into a mini-book. I believe out of six people I interviewed, one person agreed to it. The shit devastated me, but I continued on.

Consumer Driven Photography Emerged

I still was figuring out what type of work I wanted to get into. I still didn’t know. And didn’t have a portfolio to show people who wanted to pay for what I can do. So, another campaign was started. I talked to co-workers and friends to help me with my new endeavor of going about finding work in the consumer photography land: which is family portraits, babies, weddings and whatever else you can think of that everyday people would pay for that was personal to them. It was hard coordinating with people and making sure I was prepared for the photo shoot, but the results turned out great. I even got a couple of people who were so happy and surprised with my work that they started telling their friends and family about what I can do. I saw promise and knew that I was on to something.

But, there was something still there that I couldn’t put my head around. It was on the topic of event photography and more specifically weddings. When somebody saw my pictures of my family work they would ask me if I did weddings. I would cringe inside and as adamantly and politely, I said no (but just thinking about it now and what the expression on my face read was really more of an “hell no I don’t do that stuff”). So, I went on, designed my website and embarked on getting clients. Not much of anything happened from there. I had a client that I did a good job for and was pleased with the outcome of everything. It helped me more than anything to see what I was working with and how I can improve on my time and type of images the client was looking for.

The Dilemma with Work Treated Like Projects

Not too many people, especially everyday people, don’t get their picture taken often. So, when it comes to having an idea of what they want out of photographs, they have no clue. Not at all, just don’t have an idea in the world. One would think me being a creative this would be a great feeling, but that isn’t the case. I have my own projects and love getting inspirations from different types of sources and just make it happen. By me doing so I start to develop my own style. But the thing though with people is that they are going to be the ones looking and admiring the photographs in their homes. Not me.

The problem lies when I’m asking questions and getting an idea of what they are looking for and they have no clue. I usually get the comment that I’m the photographer, the expert, so whatever you want is fine with me. That just rubs me the wrong way and have to resort to being the one choosing the location, which the client isn’t emotionally attached to and also the concept of the photo shoot, which the person(s) isn’t totally inline with and so on and so forth. This happens 85% of the time.

This is also when jobs or works for people turn into projects. I treat them as projects because I’m given freedom to do what I want. That personally just doesn’t sit well with me. I remember years ago when I was spending tons of money on this blog’s web design. I had no real clue of what I wanted. The web designers kept asking me questions of what I wanted and I finally put in the work to find out what I really wanted out of a website. Ultimately, I was the one who designed the website because I had the concept and gave that to the web designer.

I’ve had two to three people who knew what they wanted and actually one person who had the concept, clothes selected and locations ideals for the images he was going for. I asked him what he wanted to do with these photographs and I was set and ready to go. It was by far the easiest and most fun photo shoot I did to date.

What Do You Want to Do Then?

It took me some time to think about this and now am at a point in my photography career that this is the best time for me to make the transition to what it is that I want to do. I will be focusing my time and energy towards commercial, business portraits and my fine art work. This is extremely exciting to me because I get to focus on concepts that are ideal and unique to me. Most of the stuff that I come up with will be of my concept, personal touch and style. I will have to think things through and will have to find a way of setting myself a part from everyone else.

I have some marketing ideas of how to get work and some avenues that I want to try in the next couple of months, but the reality of not having a portfolio is the biggest thing holding me back and that is what I plan to explore and begin to create in the near future.

I don’t know what this has taught me yet. I guess the constant eliminating of things that I don’t want to do. It is easy to do something and not care about it much, but I think it is more rewarding to follow the heart and see how possible I can make that happen. You never know unless you try and that is what I’m going to do right now.

In the next couple of weeks, I will discuss the three focus areas in depth and how I plan to make a steady income in all three of them.


2 responses to “The End of Consumer Photography. Well, for me.”

  1. Great post and was a wonderful read! I will be looking forward to your further discussions and posts regarding the transition and on the three focus areas.

    I must say I felt compelled to read your post as it lead me to understand that I myself share a rather relative mutual journey, except in different fields.

    In short, Ive been involved in Event Management & Event Marketing for over 10 years, specifically our Entertainment/ Nightlife Industry here in Vancouver B.C.

    I have now transitioned out of the Nightlife industry for my reasons and am now focusing my new company commericially; catering to our corporate markets private & public.

    I look forward to applying the creative talent Ive been so fortunate to meet throughout my experiences with treatment plans all ready to go!

    I also look forward to hearing your experiences and further details on how you intend to produce income from your new found focuses!

    All the best my man!

    Michael J. Balicha
    Vancouver B.C

  2. Michael,

    Thanks for your post reply and your personal journey and insight. It’s always interesting to see other photographers figuring out their walk and path in the photography that calls them.

    As of now, my walk in photography has changed once again. I’m actually working on a blog post that talks about this very thing.

    Michael, are you finding plenty of work in your desired field now that you have made that change to pursue it more? Is it rewarding? That is where I’m at right now. Since I’ve spent so much time doing a job that I don’t like, I felt it was extremely important for me to find work in photography (my passion) that makes me happy (most of the time) and pays my bills. I think that is the hardest part with everything.


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